Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Can You Hear God's Voice?

 Thanksgiving and Trust
 
As I was making my bed the other morning, memories of a moment in my childhood flooded my mind.
It was a Sunday.
I remember sitting in the church pew that morning, swinging my legs that were forever too short to touch the ground, and listening to Pastor Yaxley talk about how to know when you are hearing from God.  I must have been pretty young, because I don't remember much about the sermon other than that, but something was awakened in my soul from that message, and I desperately wanted to know God and to please Him.
Somehow I knew that if I could really know Him it would be amazing.
I recall praying as we were driving home and asking God how I could please my Mom that day, and somehow I came to the conclusion that I could strip my bed and take my bedding to the laundry room. I was thrilled at the thought of blessing my Mom, and hearing from God at the same time.
When we arrived at home, I set out for my room in a hurry and got busy.  Just as I stripped the last sheet and blanket from the bed, my Mom popped her head in to tell me lunch was ready. The smile on her face quickly vanished as she absorbed the scene of my radiant smile, a naked bed, and a pile of sheets and blankets gracing the floor.
"What are you doing, Jana?"
"I'm helping you, Mommy!"
"Well, maybe you should have asked me before you took your bed apart. Now you will need to put it all back together. I just washed your bedding and made your bed and it doesn't need to be done again today."
"Oh. But, I don't know how!" I could feel my lip trembling and my eyes filling with tears of disappointment and confusion, and God used my Mom to teach me a very important lesson that day.
"Well," she said, "you figured out how to take it apart, so I am sure that if you could do that big job, you can also figure out how to put it back together. Thank you for your desire to help me. Next time you want to help me, please ask me how you can best do that, or simply do something you know for sure will be helpful."
 With a hug and a smile, she left the room, and gave me the opportunity to do a little personal growing at a very young age.
This may seem harsh and to some people it may seem like God let me down, but that's just not true.
I learned some very valuable lessons that day. I learned that although God does speak to His children, there is a way and an order about how He works. I learned that I could have gone to my Mom, communicated what was in my heart and on my mind, and I could have avoided much confusion and frustration for her and for me. I learned that God is faithful and that He doesn't withdraw tough lessons just because a child is young....my little feelings were hurt, but I also got past that and learned something of value through it. 
As I finished making my bed the other day, I thought about how I struggled to put my bed back together that afternoon so long ago. That memory has stuck with me. Why?  Because it left a deep impression on me and taught me something about God, about how to actually hear His voice and that sometimes we can hear from Him by communicating our ideas to those around us, and receiving direction through them. He places authorities in our lives, wise counsel at our side, and He has given us the ability to pray and hear from Him through His Word. He gave me the desire for Him way back then, and He has been faithful to me, even when I haven't been faithful to Him along the way.
 
Life has changed much since then. I have seen God's hand of faithfulness in my life time and time again. He has allowed me to go through difficult, painful, experiences, and Has been my rock and comfort as those turbulent times served to grow and stretch me. He has comforted me and taught me to trust Him through His word. He has never left me or forsaken me, and He has taught me to hear His voice in my life.
The Bible says that Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He guides his "sheep" through every path in life, and He has been my faithful guide, counselor, healer of my heart and soul, rest when I am weary, protector, and penetrator of my heart as He faithfully and gently illuminates areas that need change and growth. He has also drawn me back into the fold when I wandered away.
 
"I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep."
John 10:14-15
 

 
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
     He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
    He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
    for his name's sake.
 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.
 You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.
Psalm 23
 

 
 
Life is about growth and change. Peace is found through pressing into the Creator and Sustainer of life. Joy is found in thanksgiving, and comfort is found through resting in Him, by learning to know Him, by following Him, and by allowing Him to change us.
Life can come barreling at us throwing fear, unrest, discontentedness, and confusion our way, but we don't have to live in fear. We don't have to live with unrest. We don't have to choose to be discontent, and we don't have to live in confusion.
 
"Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you."
I Peter 5:6-7
 

 
 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not lean on your own understanding.
 In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths.
 Be not wise in your own eyes;
    fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
Proverbs 3:5-7
 
Give Thanks
 
God shows us His awesome and amazing, unconditional love every day in countless ways. He shows us the depth of His power, the greatness of His majesty, and His care for all creation. We just have to open our eyes and notice.
Look into the eyes of the people who love you...your children, your spouse, friends, parents, siblings, even your pets. What gifts each of these blessings are. Look at the beauty of the sky and the details of plants and trees.
When we take time to notice the beauty in life and thank God for it, fear and unrest, and confusion, are replaced with peace.
 
I choose to give thanks to God through the lens of my camera, daily. This fills me with joy and peace, Through the visual reminders of His creation and provision, and the evidence of the way He sustains all that He creates, my  trust in Him deepens.

 
 

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth... God saw all that he had made, and it was very good." (Genesis 1:1, 31)


"You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you." (Nehemiah 9:6)


 

 
Count your blessings instead of your crosses;
Count your gains instead of your losses.
Count your joys instead of your woes;
Count your friends instead of your foes.
Count your smiles instead of your tears;
Count your courage instead of your fears.
Count your full years instead of your lean;
Count your kind deeds instead of your mean.
Count your health instead of your wealth;
Count on God instead of yourself.
Author Unknown

 
 Every time I come down my driveway and witness the changes in this home under construction, I feel excitement and joy in my heart, that spreads like a wildfire to my soul.  Soon our neighbors will be able to come home again.  It's been a long nineteen months since a fire overtook their home, and we can't wait to have them back in the neighborhood again.

 
“Home is the nicest word there is.”
― Laura Ingalls Wilder 
 

 
 
 

 
 
"Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours." (1 Chronicles 29:11)
 

 
Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes of which all men have some.
Charles Dickens

 
“As the years pass, I am coming more and more to understand that it is the common, everyday blessings of our common everyday lives for which we should be particularly grateful. They are the things that fill our lives with comfort and our hearts with gladness -- just the pure air to breathe and the strength to breathe it; just warmth and shelter and home folks; just plain food that gives us strength; the bright sunshine on a cold day; and a cool breeze when the day is warm.”

 
 
"For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, so that everyone who blieves in him may not perish but may have eternal life." John 3:16
 

 
“The unthankful heart discovers no mercies; but the thankful heart will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings.”
― Henery Ward Beecher

 

 

 
 

 
“A good laugh overcomes more difficulties and dissipates more dark clouds than any other one thing.”
― Laura Ingalls Wilder

 
 

 
 

 
"Gratitude is an opener of locked-up blessings."
Marianne Williamson

 
The Importance of Rest In Relation to Physical, Emotional, and Mental Strength
 
God designed our bodies to need rest. When we are getting the rest we need, our strength is renewed not only physically, but mentally and emotionally as well. It helps with attitude, the ability to focus, and see things from a fresh perspective.
 
“Vices are simply overworked virtues, anyway. Economy and frugality are to be commended but follow them on in an increasing ratio and what do we find at the other end? A miser! If we overdo the using of spare moments we may find an invalid at the end, while perhaps if we allowed ourselves more idle time we would conserve our nervous strength and health to more than the value the work we could accomplish by emulating at all times the little busy bee.

I once knew a woman, not very strong, who to the wonder of her friends went through a time of extraordinary hard work without any ill effects.

I asked her for her secret and she told me that she was able to keep her health, under the strain, because she took 20 minutes, of each day in which to absolutely relax both mind and body. She did not even “set and think.” She lay at full length, every muscle and nerve relaxed and her mind as quiet as her body. This always relieved the strain and renewed her strength.”  
Laura Ingalls Wilder

 
 

 

“Blessed is he who has learned to admire but not envy, to follow but not imitate, to praise but not flatter, and to lead but not manipulate.”
― William Arthur Ward

 
“The real things haven't changed. It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures; and have courage when things go wrong.”
― Laura Ingalls Wilder

 
“This earthly life is a battle,' said Ma. 'If it isn't one thing to contend with, it's another. It always has been so, and it always will be. The sooner you make up your mind to that, the better off you are, and more thankful for your pleasures.”
― Laura Ingalls Wilder

 

"The LORD is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.... The LORD is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made." (Psalm 145:9, 13; cf. Psalm 145:17)
 

 
As the landscape of our economy seems to be growing darker, and threats of disaster seem to be on the horizon, trusting in God is the most amazing feeling....to lay it all down, to realize I have no control anyway, and that He can and will care for His children, even if that means we go through some very rough, scary, and painful processes. God is always faithful, and we can rest in that...in His strength, His mercy, and His grace.
 
This morning I was reading in Isaiah 40:28-31 which says:

"Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
    his understanding is unsearchable.
29 He gives power to the faint,
    and to him who has no might he increases strength.
30 Even youths shall faint and be weary,
    and young men shall fall exhausted;
31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
    they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
    they shall walk and not faint."


 
 

 
  
“These times are too progressive. Everything has changed too fast. Railroads and telegraphs and kerosene and coal stoves -- they're good to have but the trouble is, folks get to depend on 'em.”

 
A couple of days ago, our family took one of the many summer walks we enjoy. As we were breathing the fresh air, feeling our hearts pumping harder as we walked up steep hills, and then feeling the relief, as we topped the biggest hill, I felt alive, and thankful for my family. While we walked together, chatting, pointing out rabbits darting in and out of the woods, stopping to pick a blackberry or two, and tasting the delicious, fresh, sweet, juiciness of the beautiful, plump, berries, there was a sweet joy from simple every day life. From time to time we saw deer staring at us from a short distance away, and we heard the birds singing beautiful songs. We joked and laughed with each other, racing in short spurts playfully, and I could relate with Laura Ingalls Wilder when she thought "this is now." 
 
This is NOW....this moment...to treasure and embrace. This is now....when things are sweet and my family surrounds me.  Who knows what tomorrow holds?  God has that covered, but for now, these sweet blessings are to be acknowledged, counted, and embraced.

 

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth... God saw all that he had made, and it was very good." (Genesis 1:1, 31)
 

 
 
"To the LORD your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it." (Deuteronomy 10:14)
 

 

"How many are your works, O Lord! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. There is the sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond number-living things both large and small. (Psalm 104:24-25)
 

 
 


"In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind." (Job 12:10)
 


 
 
"He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the LORD. By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and all their host by the breath of his mouth." (Psalm 33:5-6)

 

Psalm 9:1

I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart;
I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.
 

 


"You care for the land and water it; you enrich it abundantly…... The meadows are covered with flocks and the valleys are mantled with grain; they shout for joy and sing." (Psalm 65:9-13)
 


 

1 Chronicles 16:8

Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name;
make known his deeds among the peoples!
 

 
 
 

 

1 Chronicles 16:34

Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
for his steadfast love endures forever!

 

"To the LORD your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it." (Deuteronomy 10:14)
 

 
 

"Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours." (1 Chronicles 29:11)
 
Counting my blessings.....always. <3



5 comments :

  1. Such a great post with some many good reminders. I love all the Laura quotes. Tabby was gasping and oooohhhing at the photos. We're so glad you blog!

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    1. Thank you, Lisa! The smile on my face is big right now. I'm glad you blog too. I love reading it and looking at all of your pics. The hilarious little stories you tell about your animals, and all of their names are so entertaining and fun. It's enjoyable to see what life is like where you live and for your family. :) Hey!!! I got something AWESOME in the mail yesterday. THANK YOU so much!!!! I can't wait to take a shower now. The soaps smell so good! <3

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    2. Natalie wants Tabby to know that she thinks Tim looks like he's pretending to be Jeremy Baines in the picture of him and Tessa.

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    3. AAAAH! He DOES look like Jeremy Baines!!! xD Cute picture.

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